—for K.E.Q.


After church, the neighborhood returns to its failing.

The lights come on. Children retreat to their rooms.

In my driveway, ants continue to make good


of the cactus wren’s dead flight while deaf Jim waters

the arbor vitae. The old widow next door to him

checks her car again and looks at my house,

knowing blackness is up to no good,

in her trunk, maybe, or at her roses when

she’s sleeping. Wave hello and pass,


wave hello and pass her mint-green house,

ill decision, another decade’s color scheme

gone wrong, even in the awnings striped white.

The girl who knew me a decade earlier was right.


I am more black when I’m barefoot.

I am more black when I walk down the street,

carrying my shoes like I just don’t care.



From One Girl Babylon